Have you ever had a sharp, shooting pain travel down the back of your leg? How about a dull, persistent ache, tingling and numbness? If you have, you may be suffering from sciatica, which affects up to 40 percent of the population. If you struggle with persistent low back or leg pain, or discomfort during long periods of sitting or standing, there’s a significant chance you’re dealing with sciatic nerve irritation. Here is an explanation of sciatica and what you can do to get relief.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the symptoms that present when the sciatic nerve is irritated, entrapped, or compressed. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, starting in the lumbar spine and traveling down the back of each leg. Sometimes, the nerve becomes compressed by degenerative spinal changes, injuries, or even simply from muscular tension. Compression is what generates the irritating and painful symptoms of sciatica. Often, patients confuse sciatica with other types of low back pain that may instead be due to muscle strain or incorrect lifting techniques.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
The major telltale symptom of sciatica is radiating pain that travels from the low back, through the glutes, and down the leg or legs. Usually, pain and irritation are unilateral, meaning the symptoms affect only one side of the body. Beyond pain, sciatica elicits several other symptoms which may include: numbness of the buttock, leg, or foot, tingling that radiates down the leg, burning sensation in the low back, buttock, or leg, or lower body weakness.
“Often, simple changes in postural positioning elicit more severe symptoms. Many patients find their discomfort increases significantly during extended periods of standing or sitting. Activities that require a slight forward bend, such as washing dishes or preparing meals, also tend to aggravate sciatica symptoms.”
Who Tends to be Susceptible to Sciatica?
Usually, sciatica affects individuals between the ages of 30 and 50; however, degenerative spinal changes like stenosis and arthritis typically occur in older individuals. Pregnant women often develop temporary sciatica symptoms due to the increased weight of the fetus on the pelvic structures.
Those who are highly active are also at risk. If you practice high-impact sports or have a highly physical vocation that involves substantial lifting, you’re at a higher risk of developing sciatica. Conversely, too much sitting can also cause compression and degeneration of your spinal discs. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, work a desk job, or drive alot, your risk increases.
How Can Chiropractic Help?
Non-invasive chiropractic therapy is one of the most effective, yet gentlest forms of treatment for relief from sciatic pain and irritation. Through careful physical examination and a thorough review of your medical history and day-to-day activities, your chiropractor will determine the underlying cause of your sciatica symptoms. The appropriate diagnosis is a critical step in formulating the most effective course of treatment. Once a diagnosis has been made, your chiropractor will then pursue the appropriate treatment techniques which may include:
- Spinal Adjustments. Adjustments help to bring your vertebrae back into proper alignment, reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve root. If your hips or SI joints are out of alignment and causing irritation to the sciatic nerve, these joints may also be adjusted.
- Massage can release muscle, tendon and ligament tension, which can alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Call us a Chiropractic Family Wellness Center in Scarborough Maine for Your Sciatica
Our Southern Maine wellness center has chiropractors and massage therapists on staff to bring you relief for your sciatica symptoms. Call us at (207) 883-5549 to set up your initial appointment.